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February 27, 2020updated 06 Jul 2020 1:56pm

Smart cities: Key trends in smart city regulation revealed

By GlobalData Thematic Research


Two closely connected factors are critical if smart cities are going to succeed: citizens’ trust over the stewardship of their data, and the cybersecurity threat. Regulation in smart cities will require different laws and stringent practices to guard against personal data breaches.

Shown below are the top regulatory trends in smart cities, as identified by GlobalData

Smart laws for smart cities

As smart cities mature, regulation must keep up. Yet the law rarely reacts quickly to new technology. Effective governance is critical for smart cities’ development, not least to retain the support of citizens (especially as it is mainly their data that is being used). Establishing legislation for a concept like smart cities may be difficult. Each problem being tackled, in different geopolitical locations and cultures, will require different local laws. Regulation in smart cities will also require national laws rather than a fragmented approach.

Safeguarding citizens’ data

Personal data breaches, such as the August 2019 attack on the Click2Gov bill-paying portal used by US cities, have added to public concerns over how organisations treat their data. In the European Union (EU), higher expectations of stewardship have been set and given weight in law by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Its lens will now be focused on smart cities and their ownership, processing, use, and protection of data. The public mistrust over Google offshoot Sidewalk Labs’ bid to turn a parcel of land on Toronto’s waterfront into a showcase smart city project is a prime example of how public perceptions of what was once an eye-opening plan can change. The data privacy issue in Toronto will only spur personal data concerns.

This is an edited extract from the Smart cities – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.